Wednesday 2-2 Palace
02/05/10 - 1pm
Wednesday will be playing League One football next season after a draw with relegation rivals Crystal Palace wasn't enough to save them on the final day of the Championship season.
The Owls needed to bag all three points against the Eagles to secure their Championship fate while Palace just needed a point to stay up after failing to secure their status against West Brom last Monday.
And goals from Alan Lee and Darren Ambrose proved enough to send the Owls down, despite goals from Leon Clake and Darren Purse which twice brought the hosts level in an entertaining contest.
Owls boss Irvine had to go for an attacking line-up in the 'winner-takes-all' clash at S6, but there was still no place for winger Etienne Esajas and striker Francis Jeffers, despite some calls for the duo to be included by Wednesdayites.
Leon Clarke, Marcus Tudgay and Luke Varney led the line while Jermaine Johnson added some attacking zest to Wednesday's line-up.
For Palace, Neil Danns was suspended following his sending off in their last match against the Baggies, and Alan Lee was given a startng role after featuring as a substitute last time out.
As expected, the game started in explosive fashion but it wasn't just Wednesday who were going for it, as the visitors also went out with an attack-minded attitude, despite only needing a point.
Former Rotherham United man Lee tested Grant with Palace's first attack on goal inside the first few minutes while Wednesday put the Palace goal under some early pressure with a couple of early corner kicks.
Eagles stopper Julian Speroni was first tested when Wednesday winger Jermaine Johnson went on a typical mazy run and forced the Palace goalkeeper into a relatively comfortable save.
Players from both sides were putting that bit extra in on the pitch but Palace striker Calvin Andrew took his passion too far when he went in high on Grant and duly picked up a yellow card.
It was far from a 'dirty' game though, although try telling that to Owls midfielders James O'Connor and Darren Potter though, who both finished the first half with bandages on their heads.
The chances were few and far between though despite the frantic start.
Grant did have to be alert to deny Ambrose with an athletic save from a free-kick from the Palace man.
The opening goal came in somewhat fortunate circumstances on 24 minutes and it was former Miller Lee who broke the deadlock.
Owls midfielder O'Connor was waiting to get back on the pitch following a head injury but referee Mike Dean waved play on and from the set piece Lee rose highest to power his header into the back of the net.
It left Wednesday with a mountain to climb and the celebrations from the Palace players showerd just how important the strike was.
It was an early blow for the hosts but Wednesday's heads didn't drop too low, Johnson responding with an effort which fizzed wide of the goal.
And their hard work paid off just two minutes before the interval when Clarke fired in the Owls' leveller.
His battling qualities won the ball from a Palace defender and Clarke flashed a cool effort from a tight angle beyond Speroni and into the back of the net to send Hillsborough into delirium.
It came at just the right time for Wednesday and the Wednesdayites inside S6 applauded their men off at the resumption as they hoped for a turnaround in the second half.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Palace
To add more drama to the clash, former Eagle Tom Soares was introduced in place of the injured Clarke, who'd picked up an injury following his leveller.
And the Owls enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges in the second half, with Palace looking relatively comfortable on their 1-1 stalemate.
Wednesday had a couple of golden opportunities to edge ahead and take command of the match - the best coming from Luke Varney as he shrugged off two of his markers but saw Speroni brilliantly save his powerful effort.
It was a positive sign for the Owls faithful though and the atmosphere raised a notch once again for the biggest crowd inside S6 for over a decade.
Palace continued to focus on their defence but the visitors still looked like they could cause plenty of problems on the break - something which Wednesday were well aware of.
And it was from one such break in which they regained their lead and all-but sealed their Championship status just after the hour mark.
Ambrose, one of Palace's players of the season, arrived in the nick of time to drill home a low effort beyond Grant and send the travelling support behind the goal into delirium.
It left Irvine with no option other than to introduce Esajas at the expense of O'Connor, while Francis Jeffers was also introduced minutes later to join the attack, Eddie Nolan being replaced.
Mark Beevers also joined the attack to add some more height to the long balls that stopper Grant was hurling forward.
Jeffers had another golden chance to get Wednesday back on level terms but he just couldn't connect with a superb cross across the face of goal and the danger was cleared.
The hosts did give themselves a fighting chance with two minutes left to when Palace's Stern John failed to pick up Purse at the back post and the Owls skipper drilled home from a long Spurr throw-in.
It prompted Wednesday to throw everything including the proverbial kitchen sink at Palace, including Grant joining the attack a number of times, but they couldn't find the winner as Palace held on to secure their Championship status.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-2 Palace